Shakespearean stalwart Amanda Harris won the Best Performance in a Supporting Role Olivier Award in 2005 for her portrayal of Emilia, the wife of the evil Iago (played by Anthony Sher) and Desdemona’s maidservent in the 2004 Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of OTHELLO, directed by Gregory Doran. After its initial staging in Stratford-upon-Avon, followed by a tour of Japan it returned to England and opened the larger of the two theatres at the Trafalgar Studios in London in June.
My wife and I were fortunate to see Amanda in the RSC’s staging of THE TAMING OF THE SHREW at the Barbican Theatre in London in 2019 as part of our annual Shakespearean tradition to celebrate our wedding anniversary. The production switched the genders for every role with Amanda playing Minola Baptista, one of the wealthiest ‘men’ in Padua and ‘father’ of Kate, the ‘shrew’ of the play’s title and Bianca.
Her screen credentials include appearances in all the popular British TV programmes, including MIDSOMER MURDERS, THE BILL, A TOUCH OF FROST and HEARTBEAT. Amanda has taught drama and Shakespeare at the University of Alicante in Spain and is an Associate Artist at the RSC, where I sent this Emilia/Baptista sketch of her as for her to sign, which she kindly did and returned with a nice complementary note.
“Rory Kinnear is a National Treasure”,states The Independent, and they may well be right. Throughout the summer of 2013, the brilliant British actor played the Shakespearian villain Iago opposite Adrian Lester in the title role of OTHELLO at the National Theatre in London. Both won the Best Actor Award at the Evening Standard Awards with Rory going on to win his second Olivier. The Mail’s Quentin Letts wrote it was a “fine performance from Mr Kinnear, who cements his reputation as one of our stage’s stars”.
His last theatre success however was as a playwright with his debut play THE HERD, which opened at the Bush Theatre in September 2013. It was shortlisted for the Most Promising Playwright at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards and has just ended it’s first American run at Chicago’s legendary Steppenwolf Company.
Rory is currently treading the boards, or in this case a 15m long moving ‘travelator’ as Josef K in Richard Jones’s production of Nick Gill’s adaption of Franz Kafka’s THE TRIAL at London’s Young Vic. During rehearsals for the play he was also required for night shoots on the next Bond film SPECTRE, reprising the role of M16’s ever-dependable Tanner. He said he would finish at 5am and then be required at rehearsals between 11 and noon, so sleep was in short supply. A punishing schedule made all the more extreme when he is on stage for the entirety of the interval-free production.
Then, just when you finish a Saturday evening after a long week, looking forward to the Sunday off, you are confronted at the exit by a serial sketcher wanting you to sign a drawing. But, true to form, Rory was his usual amiable self…’Ah, another masterpiece”, he complimented. (Rory actually has a HAMLET sketch I did of him, framed and hanging on his wall at home.) Sleep deprivation I modestly thought.
Outstanding thespian Rory Kinnear has been shortlisted for two Evening Standard Theatre Awards – Best Actor for his astonishing portrayal of Iago opposite Adrian Lester (also nominated) in the National’s Othello. He has also got the nomination for the Most Promising Playwright for The Hero at the Bush Theatre.
The award winners will be announce this Sunday (17 November 2013) at the Savoy Hotel in London.
Rory kindly signed my sketch of him in Hamlet with a nice dedication at the National Theatre in October 2010. I gave him a copy and he said he had it framed and hanging in his home the day he got it.
Comedian Lenny Henry made his Shakespearean debut as Othello – one of the most challenging roles in dramatic literature. After opening at the West Yorkshire Playhouse it transferred to the Trafalgar Studios in London in November 2009. Lenny received widespread critical acclaim in the title role with The Daily Telegraph saying ‘This is one of the most astonishing debuts in Shakespeare…” Conrad Nelson was equally impressive, as the vile and reptilian antagonist, Iago and Jessica Harris played the Moor’s wife Desdemona.
All three signed my sketch after I saw a matinee performance in December 2009.